Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The rise of the Minimalist Party

We all know about minimalist art and minimalist music, but in the Kingdom of Tonga a minimalist style of politics seems to be thriving. 

The seven independent MPs voted into parliament in Tonga's recent general election have no common philosophy, no common policies, no manifesto, and no common name: that hasn't stopped them, though, from turning themselves into a de facto political party and conducting negotiations first with the Democratic Party of 'Akilisi Pohiva and then with the nobles who are allotted nine crucial seats in parliament by Tonga's revised constitution. 

Sadly, the post that I wrote in 2010 about Tonga's previous general election and its aftermath seems to describe many of the events of the last week. For the second election running, the Democratic Party has won a clear majority of the seats in Tonga's parliament elected by universal suffrage; once again, though, Pohiva and co look like being denied the right to form a government.

Last June, when a festival of political discussion was held in Nuku'alofa, I argued that Tongan democracy should interest us all. I wish it interested the kingdom's nobles and independent MPs. 

For updates and waspish commentary on the negotiations in Nuku'alofa, follow 'Atalanga-based scholar Teena Pulu Brown's twitter feed [Posted by Scott Hamilton]


Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that 90 percent of the independents are strongly liberal and, like Dr Eke, they could support the Democratic Party’s political agenda.

‘Etuate Lavulavu, MP for Vava’u 16, indicated to the Party before the election campaign began that he wanted to join the Party and represent them from Vava’u 16.

However, before the Party met to discuss its list for the outer islands, ‘Akilisi’s son-in-law, Mateni Tapueluelu, published what he claimed was the official Party list in Kele’a newspaper.

It prompted Deputy Leader ‘Isileli Pulu to appear in the media and deny that it was the Party’s official list. At the time he mentioned ‘Etutate Lavulavu as one of their potential candidates for Vava’u. However the Kele’a list stood and Pohiva later endorsed it as the Party’s list for the outer island.

After the election only one Party member from Ha’apai 13 was elected and the Democrats lost their seat in Ha’apai 12 to the independents. The Party’s candidate list for Vava’u and Niua were not elected.

There was also a possibility that Saia Piukala could work together with Pohiva and the Party. His brother Piveni Piukala was the Party’s candidate list member from Vava’u 14 in 2010, even though he was not elected.

Sione Vuna Fa’otusia was involved with the Human Rights and Democracy Movement (HDM). HDM was a body initiated by Pohiva and the Democratic Party was a branch of the HDM.

Samiu Kiuta Vaipulu, the former Deputy Prime Minister, is a good person himself, but based on his performance in the past four parliamentary years I do not think he has the leadership qualities and sense of political direction to make him a Prime Minister or even a Deputy Prime Minister.

His political judgement will remain in question after the debacle over the introduction of the Chinese-made Xian MA60 aircraft, which was withdrawn after political and financial pressure from New Zealand.

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